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Comment A teacher's opinion (Score 3, Interesting) 107

After my previous post I went and talked to my teacher wife directly about this. She said at the age level that she teaches (first and second grade) it would be a really bad idea. They are just then learning their directions and compass directions and changing the perspective would make it very confusing.

Also, she pointed out that some, but not all of the lessons use compass directions, North South East and West. Switching East and West on them when they are just learning about them is not an age-appropriate thing to do, their brains are not ready for that yet. You and I get that concept easily but at that age it's not there yet. She did say that the programs are an excellent and applied way for kids to learn compass directions.

The interesting thing however is that if you DID want to teach it, the tools are there. One of the first things that they learn to do is to define the function of the direction buttons in the GUI when making interactive games. You could wire them in reverse. But there's no way that she would be doing that with her grade level.

This is a concept that should be saved for and given as a lesson for the older kids using the more advanced classes that are programming directly in javascript.

I'd like to hear from more actual teachers who are actually using with their kids.

Comment "screen" left and right works just fine. (Score 2) 107

Some have mentioned the idea of "stage" left and right. Coming from a theater and television background I can relate to this, but it is unnecessary in this application.

My wife just got her entire school to do the hour of code. She teaches a 1st and 2nd grade combo class. Adding the difficulty of character-centric directions from the get-go would make it more difficult for some first and second graders to do this, that is a concept that can come later. A few of her students breezed through the entire first lesson set, most can just grasp all the concepts, and some need a little more help but always succeed. (they work in teams, trading off keyboard/mouse time, and that works best for kids of their age.) and it teaches an amazing wealth of concepts even without having to deal with third party perspective direction.

It would be a good concept to switch it up on a much later lesson and specifically talk about the difference between screen direction and character perspective direction. They did not 'get it wrong' for the basic lessons in any way shape or form.

This is much ado about nothing. The hour of code and offerings are amazing as they are. They are giving kids a big boost in fundamental concepts they would not normally learn or at least in an applied manner until much later. It makes learning fun. Unlike most technology oriented education programs, this one actually is useful and works. When first and second graders go home and explain to their parents what an algorithm is and how they use one that's a pretty awesome thing.

Comment Trivial to bypass (Score 4, Interesting) 188

I am a photographer, and I have no problem sharing this:

If you want to get around the image obfuscation used by most photo sharing sites and more and more news sites, open up firefox, and go to view -> page style -> no style. That usually gives you the actual image displayed somewhere in the resulting page. No plugins needed.

If you want to better ensure your name stays with an image, watermark it, and add meta-data. Depending on how annoying the watermark is, someone could take the time to paint it out, and meta data is trivial to strip. As the saying goes, if you can see it, you can take it. If you're that worried about it, don't show it to anyone.

Comment tarrif elimination schedule question (Score 2) 247

New Zealand's tariff elimination schedule is pretty straight forward. It shows what it currently is and what it will be up to 7 years out (most are completely eliminated the first year.)

On the US's schedule, it lists the "base rate" which I assume is what it is right now sans TPP, and then columns representing the other countries, which all say "EIF". Does anyone know what that stands for? Does that mean that for those countries the tariff is eliminated completely?

Comment There's only one problem... (Score 2) 27

because the ink layer is so thin, these circuits have an incredible amount of resistance, even with really fat lines.

I have one of these pens and it is a fun novelty, but not useful for practical circuits. The metal content isn't high enough. It's better applied to art projects and for kids teaching where you can show them a lot of circuit concepts in a very visual manner. That's where I felt this product would excel. If you drag a lead to a lightbulb over a 10" line, depending on how thick it is the bulb will be completely out either in a few inches or with a fat line over the whole length.

A version where you squired a lot more of the material with a thickener out of a mustard type squeeze bottle would get you some more functionality. But it's fun for the kids.

Comment It's still a hobby (Score 2) 47

Like another earlier poster, I still consider home automation to be a hobby, especially after trying it enthusiastically for a while. Reason being: It's expensive, it takes a lot of time, it's buggy and it's not necessary. But it can be fun if you're willing to deal with the downsides.

The big power-user product for home automation control is a very powerful piece of software called homeseer. If you're really serious about it and you want to do a lot with scripted events, that's a good bet, although it's not consumer friendly. It does run locally, you're not surrendering data to a company or the cloud and everything is yours and everything is configurable. I'm curious about the new localized box in the link as an alternative.

For a while I installed insteon switches and controllers all over the house. One by one they died, I don't think they liked the unreliable power where I lived at the time. Frustrated, I tore it all out and went back to plain old switches; I knew they would just work when I needed them to. I'm open to trying again, especially now that I am in a much larger house and I want to do things like gang-control upstairs and downstairs thermostats in unison to optimize efficiency for the temperature gradient, and control far flung light switches with a master switch or smartphone app. But it's quite an investment to replace all those switches and outlets. Fortunately you don't have to go all in at once, you can just do the things you need the most to start with.

Comment compliance cars (Score 1) 229

It seems like most pure EV's from the major manufacturers are so called 'compliance cars' built to meet (largely nonsensical) regulatory requirements. They are not widely advertised and no one buys them because they are so expensive compared to their IC counterparts and have significantly less range. The Tesla model S, an EV designed for its own sake, is a wonderful exception, but the price point puts it out of range for 95% of consumers.

Given the slow incremental improvement in battery technology, do you envision a cost effective, honestly mass market-palletable EV being possible in the next 10 years? Is GM working towards that goal?

Comment The target market... (Score 1) 300

...will basically be executives who's time is worth the price to get them to Tokyo and back for a deal. The very nature of the beast entails a small number of seats and thus a high price per seat. The cost and logistics go up by a very large amount when you increase the size of the vehicle. There are also issues with generating supersonic booms in places that are not used to it, limiting it to mostly ocean overflights or re-entering over sparsely populated areas. It won't be a mass market item, but there may be a market for it. In the mean time, up-and-down suborbital will have a larger market than point to point.

Comment rewind to the real problem (Score 1) 342

Burning Man has created an artificial monopoly for ice. By the description it sounds much like bread lines in Russia. If you try to bottleneck and manage essential goods at a single source, it invariably gets unmanageable as it scales up. They're dealing with a pretty large population these days for a bunch of festival organizers.

Based on the commenter who described the actual process via way of being a volunteer, a short term solution without getting into the political questions is to massively increase parallelism during peak times. Despite the pretty simple process, the peak demand is straining the system.

If they kept statistics about load vs. time they could figure out easily when to have a whole bunch more labor present to get the job done more quickly for the throngs of thousands.

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